New B.C. tourism numbers are in and they show a big boost for the first half of the year.
The province says more than two million overnight visitors came to BC in the first half of the year, up more than 12 percent from 2015.
CKNW business analyst Robert Levy says it’s a key reason B.C.’s economy is humming.
“It’s the spin-off to the services industries, whether it’s hospitality like hotels, restaurants… It helps employ people and and give people jobs in this region. We can capitalize on the fact that Vancouver is a desirable place to come visit.”
Levy says there’s two key factors behind the jump.
“Number one is we have a sustained lower level in the Canadian dollar, hanging below that 80-cent benchmark for a couple of years, and the second thing is what this region of the country has done to make BC and Vancouver an accessible market to international travelers.”
Visits from Mexico jumped nearly 40 percent, while tourism from China grew 22 percent and the US by 12 percent.
Meanwhile, BC’s whale watch industry is celebrating another banner year.
“The world really got invested in southern resident orcas.”
Michael Harris with the Pacific Whale Watch association says last year’s orca baby boom — and this year’s “hump back comeback” are keeping tour operators busy.
And he says while the world is watching — more than ever its people curious about their own back yard.
“Frankly a lot of local people, especially up on the BC side who have never gone whale watching, suddenly wanted to go out and see their neighbours in the marine environment.”
Harris estimates visits are up a full quarter from 2014 — to about half a million rides this year.